Go in-depth with current affairs
Because the liberal studies exam contains questions on local and international current affairs, Fung suggests looking back at the top news stories of recent years.
Recent controversial and influential topics include the tainted water scare, HKU’s deputy head controversy, China’s two-child policy, the Ngau Tau Kok fire, the Zika virus, and the 2017 Hong Kong Chief Executive election. He encourages students to look at different angles of each issue.
The Ngau Tau Kok fire, for example, falls under the Hong Kong Today module. Fung recommends students consider why there are so many mini-storage facilities in the city. They can talk about how the shortage of land and housing means citizens have limited space in which to store their belongings. Another issue is raising awareness of possibly lax safety standards at these mini-storage facilities, which are mostly situated in old industrial buildings.
Use the right terms
An answer without liberal studies terms will not impress examiners, so Fung also recommends that you associate the related concepts with these issues. For example, when analysing the 2017 Hong Kong Chief Executive election, you shouldn’t miss terms such as “political participation”, “governance efficiency”, “credibility”, and “legitimacy”.
Lam agrees. For example, if you are asked about introducing “national education” courses to primary and secondary school curriculums, a word such as “brainwashing” is not enough. Use and identify liberal studies words such as “assimilation” and “identity”.
If a question asks you to take on different roles, common stakeholders including educators, lawmakers, officials, parents and students should be used.
Understand the hot topics
Lam says during the holidays, you should get a better understanding of personal development and interpersonal relationship theories, such as Erik H. Erikson’s “eight ages of man”, and Abraham Maslow’s “self-actualisation”.
The liberal studies exam tends to ask how a phenomenon, such as being a phubber or an internet addict, affects your mental and physical development. Your answers will not delve deeply enough if you are not able to use these theories to explain the impact on different stages of personal development.
Hong Kong Today is an exam favourite. At least one question will cover current local issues. Lam recommends you get an in-depth knowledge of Hong Kong’s political systems and the thinking behind these systems.
One hot issue is whether or not functional constituencies in the elections for the Legislative Council should be scrapped. Lam says you should consider why such functional constituencies, such as the District Council (Second), exist, and how they affect governance, efficiency and quality of life (some people say these protect the interests of the business sector above Hongkongers’).
Practice makes perfect
During the summer holidays, start doing past papers, reading exam reports and comparing the given answers with sample tests. Jot down tricky questions and practise doing them over and over again.
Fung says this is a great way to memorise the specific terms, and remember what concepts you need for different types of questions.